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Bablyonian Talmud, Book 5: Tracts Aboth, Derech Eretz-Rabba, Eretz-Zuta, and Baba Kama (First Gate), tr. by Michael L. Rodkinson, [1918], at


FOUR things are derogatory to scholars: to walk alone in the dark (and arouse suspicion); to be perfumed; to be the last in entering a prayer-house, and to hold much discourse at a meeting of dunces.

When entering, the greater shall be first; when leaving, the smaller shall be first. When ascending steps, the greater shall be first; when descending, the smaller shall be the first. At a public meeting, the greater shall have the preference. When entering a prison, the smaller shall do so first. For saying benedictions, the greater is first. The one entering the house must always greet first the one who is in the house. One must not lean at meals (as was the custom in the Orient) when a greater man than he is at the table. One shall not drink in public unless he turns away his face from the bystanders. The first step to sin is in one's thoughts, the second is scorn, the third is haughtiness, the fourth is cruelty, the fifth is idleness, the sixth is causeless hatred, and the seventh is an evil eye; and these were meant by Solomon [Prov. xxvi. 25]: "For there are seven abominations in his heart."

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